MASSE IN THE HOUSE: Masse Questions Minister on Pride Funding and the Effects on Tourism

Hansard – May 10, 2010

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the city of Toronto is still reeling from the cancellation of the government support of Pride celebrations this year.
Toronto's pride week is not only North America's largest Pride celebration, it is also internationally recognized and brings approximately 300,000 people to the city of Toronto every single year.
In fact, last year alone the government support of $400,000 led to $6 million of economic activity for Toronto alone. This is a marquee event.
What does the government have against Pride celebrations in Toronto?

Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Industry, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as I said before, this year, year two of the program, we have made a conscious effort to make sure that all centres around the country, including in urban communities outside of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, also have access to the marquee tourism events program. That has been the case.
In the city of Toronto, two very successful events, Luminato and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair were successful again this year. A number of other events were not successful. If the hon. member had his way, none of them would get any money because of course they voted against the budget.

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, that is absolute nonsense.
This Toronto Pride is part of a very worrisome pattern of the government. Vancouver Pride was also shut out of government funding this year, as well. Last year the secretary of state for small business and tourism was punished for supporting Pride events.
Then the Minister of Immigration removed all mention of Canada's gay and lesbian communities from Canada's new citizenship guide.
How can Canadians celebrate our tolerance when it seems the government has none? That is why it has to heckle, because it is so sensitive to the truth.

Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Industry, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as a result of our changes to the program, 19 new events in other urban centres across the country have had access to the marquee events tourism program. We think that that is progress.
We had a cap for the major urban centres, like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton, a cap of a maximum of two events, so we could spread it around and make sure that the diversity of the country was recognized by this program.
That is what we have done. Again, those hon. members are very good at complaining now, but they vote against these measures when they come up in the House. That is shameful and disgraceful.